A Travellerspoint blog

Week 2 - France

sunny 28 °C

Monday 3rd September

Sad to be leaving Denmark but onto our next stage.

Drop the car off no problems. We are flying with Easyjet which is a budget airline. Paul has assured us there is nothing easy about Easyjet. I have printed the boarding passes but there aren’t any seat numbers so I presume it is first in best dressed. At baggage drop off Rach points to the old man with a walking stick and a CROW and we get our boarding passes stamped SA. We find the Priority Lounge, which is very comfortable and has free pour spirits, so after a whisky and a Campari this is going to be an “Easyjet” flight. One of the problems of Easyjet is that the gate is about 3 kms away. Rach has organised a ride in a cart so instead of a 30 min walk we have a 5 min ride. When we arrive at the gate we get priority loading, so we are first on the plane and get front baulk head seats

Arrival into Paris very easy no customs or passport check and our driver from Parisian Car Services waiting at the gate.

Great little flat in the Canal Saint Martin District, close to centre of Paris near the Gare de L’est Metro. This is a flat we booked through airbnb (Thanks Julie Purdey for the recommendation). We decided to toast our Paris adventures with a bottle of Billie-Carte champagne and take a moment to remember how lucky we are. The flat was on the 2nd floor above some shops and the access was through a blue door right on the street. Michele and Fatina were there to help with our cases. Whilst there was a lift it was a one man affair and even then you had to go in side ways.

Michele recommended a typical Parisian Ristorante “Esprit Brasserie” walking distance from flat. Lots of people about and plenty of eateries. We find Esprit Brasserie and have an excellent meal with a nice French Red and delicious seafood.

Tuesday 4th

Catch Metro to Ecole Militaire. The stairs in the metro are incredible. I am starting to master the CROW.

We stroll through the park to the Eiffel Tower, only about a km but a pleasant walk. The queue was about 2 hours long, we should have pre booked on the web, so we opt for a bit of culture at the Mussee d’Osay. http://www.musee-orsay.fr/ This building has had an interesting past. Starting as railway station Gare d’Orsay, it was used as a mail centre for sending packages to POWs during the Second World War, a film set and a Hotel. General de Gaulle held the press conference announcing his return to power in its ballroom (the Salle des Fêtes). It closed as a Hotel in 1973 and after some to and fro including assistance from Presidents Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's and François Mitterrand, was converted to a museum in1986. It is five story Musee probably best known for its extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces (the largest in the world) by such painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. I had the same thoughts as Carmel, if this place was sold the French could pay off the national debt. Perhaps the Euro zone could do with a couple of Aussie financial advisors. This is hard work so finish with afternoon tea and a glass of white in the café.

Back to our Paris flat for a rest before our evening adventures. Rich Wenzel has recommended we dine at a’le Villarett.

We wander down to the canal district as recommended by Michele and discover many children’s shops. Rae will be back to visit this area tomorrow whilst Rach and I collect the car for sure! Have a pre-dinner drink at one of the bars before getting a taxi to restaurant.

a’le Villarett was a great recommendation from Rich. We had a fabulous night at a wonderful Parisian restaurant in the back streets. Not sure what the others had but mine was “bifteck grillé flamme “ cooked to perfection.

Wednesday 5th

Rach and I head off early to collect the car. 50 minute Metro ride to the Citroen dealer, on the outskirts of Paris. I was keen to do a couple of laps of the arc de Triomphe but a bit tight for time as we have a long drive today. We have taken the option again to purchase the car for our 4 week stay and then its sold back to Citroen. Have taken the CROW off today and fold the walking stick up and give it to Rach as we go to pick up the car, wouldn’t want them to know they are hiring the car to a bloke with a crook foot. We have a Dark Grey diesel C5 for our adventures.

The drive back into Paris was uneventful now that I’m getting the hang of driving on the right hand side. We were pleased to be reacquainted with our GPS lady from our last visit in 2008. Were even more pleased to hear that her manners have improved and she now starts the directions with…”PLEASE turn left…”

The ‘Parking Fairy’ has followed me to the Northern Hemisphere and I was able to get a park out the front of our flat. Rae was looking out the 2nd floor window and saw a car pull out thinking that would be a good park for Pete, not realising it was me waiting to pull in.(not sure if it was a legal park so wasn’t sure I could leave the car.) Rae and Rach did a great job with luggage, I could get used to this.

We set off on our next adventure – 450km Drive to Beaujolais area, south east of Paris between Dijon and Lyon.

The traffic was very hectic due to an accident, so only travelled about 30kms in the first 2 hours. Our GPS lady kept us informed.

Arrive at Blace to find our Hotel Le Savigny. Greeted by the owner Bruno. We are the only guests staying at the hotel. Rach gets her room upgraded. The rooms are large French style with big beds, bathrooms and the mandatory bidet. All hotels now seem to have very good WiFi connections.

We have a pre-dinner drink on the terrace overlooking the town of Blace and sample one of the areas Beaujolais.

Bruno recommends a restaurant in a nearby town of Blaceret the Ristorante Beajolais. We are the only diners so thankfully Bruno has called ahead for us, which would have given the owners enough time to open up and get their daughter ready to serve us. Once again we are treated to delicious wine and food from the area.

Rach bought us a painting by a local artist that will remind us of this wonderful holiday and the experiences we are enjoying together.

Thursday 6th

Started the day on the terrace with a French style breakfast. Will need to do a bit of walking today….

Headed south from Blace towards Oingt. Asked our GPS lady to find us the shortest route this time rather than the fastest. Learnt a good lesson that this meant many narrow dirt roads! Oingt is a fortified village perched on the side of a hill surrounded by Beaujolais vineyards. The southern area of the Beaujolais district is very similar to Tuscany.

Bruno had recommended a restaurant for lunch in Col du Fut d’Avenas. We take the foot hills and stop at St Ctr le Chatoux alond the way. There is an open air “la boucherie”. Rae decides to try her French and bought something for dinner, although we ate it I have no idea what it was. She had better luck in “la boulangerie” where she got a very nice bread stick.

Very quiet at this time of year for tourists. There was only one other table. Maybe due to being at the end of the summer season or the GFC.

There was a haze across the view but this cleared as we enjoyed our lunch on the terrace and another Beaujolais. Am lucky that Rach has offered to be the designated driver for the day, so can enjoy the wine.

A couple of incidents here; firstly the rubber knob on the bottom of my walking stick collapses; fortunately brought a couple of spares (and yes Rory I did need the large knob.) And secondly there was a quite flash shared toilet and at the hand basin there was a silver plate that when you touched it the lights went off and a red coloured light came on in the water flow. The lady who was at the toilet at the same time was out the door like a flash.

Called into some wineries on the way home for some wine tasting.

First – Regnie. Met the owner Guy Trichard. Guy was owner and field worker wine maker etc. He was dressed in shorts and a singlet and had limited English but with my Italian (he was French) we were able to share a conversation, many laughs and understand a little about his wines. Their wine tastings are very different to Australia. They actually sits down and shares a taste with you. If he was busy the days would pass very well. We left with a selection of 6 bottles of his wines.

Second – Beaujolais Villages. Met by Jacky Monternot who owns the winery with his twin brother Bernard. Jacky asked his niece to join us for the tasting, as her English was quite good. We felt very welcomed as we sat around the table with Jacky tasting each of his wines with him, and learning about the area and the wines that had won awards. Left with another 8 bottles of wine…. lucky future travels are by car and no luggage weight issues.

The vines are mostly free standing not on trellis, and we saw a lot of pruning of the tops to let the sun light in. Most of the vines are quite short, not much more than a metre high.

Had dinner on the terrace with treats we had bought during the day at small market stalls we had come across. Invited Bruno to join us for a glass of wine. Bruno’s English was very good and we were able to hear more about the area and the hotel that had been in his family for 4 generations. Bruno’s love was sailing but he has put this on hold to run the family hotel. He is hoping that his sons will soon mature enough to take over the family business and he can get back to his sailing passion. They had a full house Saturday and Sunday night but bookings were low. During the Tour De France Australian media had stayed at his hotel and he mentioned the biggest concern was to ensure the WiFI connections worked. Was a very pleasant evening temperature as we chatted, drank Beaujolais and shared Bruno’s first figs for the season.

Posted by peterhann 08:35 Archived in France Comments (0)

Week 1 - Denmark


Monday 27th Aug

Off to Denmark, early start as our flight leaves at 8:30AM so we need a 6AM pickup by Tariq. While we are waiting there is a skirmish at front door. Four quite glamorous ladies come down the elevator and head out the front door (three with more leg than skirt and one in full length black Burqa), heading for the taxis. All of sudden there is yelling and ladies and a man are taken away by security.

Arrive at Airport no upgrade unfortunately not even an exit row seat thanks to the CROW. We try to find Rach’s Priority Lounge; however a 30 min walk to gate, even for a bloke with a good leg. There is a bit of confusion at security with Rae needing to remove jewellery.

Easy flight then things start to go wrong. Half way to Denmark Rach realises she left her iMac at security. Just before touch down Pete tries to put CROW back on. This however is not easy as the foot has swollen and I have got to drop dacks to put the CROW on and with some difficulty pull the dacks over the CROW. The CROW is two pieces of snug fitting plastic held in place with 4 velcro straps. Imagine the scene perched on an aeroplane loo foot up almost around my neck trying to get the CROW back on. Put a bit too much tension to squeeze the foot in and bust main ankle strap. Can survive with three straps but the CROW is not on properly, flopping a bit and not a snug fit. Leave the plane and hop on an elevator and catch front of CROW as the step goes up and bust foot strap. Both ankle and foot straps broken; the CROW is basically buggered.

Arrive CPH busted CROW; lost computer “The Griswolds have arrived in Town”

Helen meets us at the Airport. Rach reports lost iMac. Budget car hire upgraded to Opel Station Wagon. Thank goodness would have been a tight fit with the luggage.

Very enjoyable lunch with Helen & Jorgen. It is really great to be with them. This the first time we have seen them since the death of their lovely daughter Karen. It is a sad but also rewarding time for all of us.

We take a lay day after the pace of flights and Dubai.

We have dinner with Benfers. Only Charlotte, Emma and Thomas; Paul is in Bahrain until Friday

Tuesday 28th August

An early visit to a new shopping mall in Roskilde to find someone to fix Pete's boot - amazingly we found an Asian bootmaker living in Denmark who felt sure he could fix it but would need 24 hours. So Pete was a little curtailed until 10 the next morning when we picked up a very well mended boot, far stronger than the original.

Rae went for a walk with Helen and Jorgen in the afternoon and visited Karen's gravesite - they were pleased that the headstone incorporating a lovely smiling photo of Karen had arrived from Italy and installed before our arrival. The cemetery is a local one that Helen and Jorgen frequently pass on their walks, beautifully kept gardens with each plot surrounded by trimmed box hedges and planted up by individual families. A very peaceful place.

Rach gets an email to say they have located her iMac and Emirates agree to send it with the purser on the next flight.

Wednesday 29th August

Pete & Jorgen go to collect CROW, little Asian mate jokes that he has broken or lost it. He has fixed the CROW better than new for 150 krone (about $30). We are back in business.

Off to Copenhagen for the day, with Jorgen driving Charlottes bigger car to fit us all in. A lovely sunny day so we headed for the canal where we enjoyed a great boat trip around the canals of the city, seeing places of interest such as their new Opera House, the Royal Yacht which had just returned from London after taking Mary and Frederick to the Olympic Games, all the Royal homes, the little mermaid (who had surprisingly just been reinstated on her rock after being taken to Shanghai for an Expo) and many beautiful homes on the water’s edge.

A lovely lunch sitting in the sun viewing all the busy canal activities, then home to Roskilde. The buildings along here were originally occupied by ladies providing their services to the sailors. This was long after the Viking days.

On the way home call past the Airport to collect Rach’s iMac. Well done to the Emiratis. We are in good shape CROW fixed and iMac back.

Charlotte cooked us a very beautiful meal, she is following in the tradition of Cameron women as an excellent cook (never have been sure what comes first the excellent cooking or the Husband’s expectation or vice versa). The Danish hospitality is bountiful.

Thursday 30th

Happy Birthday Kate Cunningham!

Charlotte and Rach visited Frederiksborg Castle & Museum. This is an inspiring and magnificent 17th Century Renaissance castle, which today houses the Museum of Natural History. An especially interesting piece of artwork was a picture of Princess Mary made from Australian and Danish newspapers. Princess Mary is very much loved in Denmark.

Rach went to the local Sushi restaurant with Charlotte, Emma and Thomas. Were treated as special guests as Emma is a valued customer after her time in Australia where she discovered the taste for Sushi. Japanese food is becoming more popular in Denmark than when we have previously visited.

Rae and Pete have a generally quiet day with Rae shopping with Helen and Pete and Jorgen taking a drive through the country, also a visit to the Viking Museum. I cannot imagine they went to sea in those ships.. must have been desperate for the raping and plundering.

That night we had a visit from Birger and Kirsten Andersen. They are coming to Australia in October to see his brother. It was through this connection that Helen made her way to Denmark in the 1960s and met Jorgen. Birger is also well known along with Bjarne as the famous Yodelling Andersen Brothers, one of the best party acts I have ever seen. Their sister Bender also saved Pete’s life once.

Friday 31st

Happy Birthday Jack Hann!

Decided to get some more practice driving on the right hand side of the road so planned a trip into Copenhagen. Found the walking street and quite a convenient car park with little trouble.

Beautiful walk down the shopping street. Rach and Rae had to be held back from buying too much due to luggage weight restrictions we have on EasyJet to Paris.

Danish lunch and drinks in the square in the fabulous sunshine. Have had such great weather so far. Way too many winter clothes packed!

Ladies got a bit sick of Pegleg Pete and his constant reminders of weight restrictions on Easyjet so decided to all go separate ways and meet back at restaurant in an hour. Rae and Rach there as planned but Pete had got himself geographically challenged in the Northern Hemisphere. (Takes a couple of weeks to get the NH gyroscope working). A quick flagging down of a rickshaw sorted that out.

Arrived back at the car to find the car park was too convenient and had been issued a parking ticket! 510 krone sounds a lot but only $80 and can pay that much for a day’s parking in Melbourne. Bit annoyed shouldn’t have paid the original 30 krone.

Back home to Roskilde to have dinner with Helen & Jorgen and the Benfers. Paul had arrived back from Bahrain so was great to see him. A fun night sitting outside with pizza and wine. Many laughs and stories shared with our lovely Danish family!

Saturday 1st

Rach went down to the Benfers and with the help of Thomas was able to Skype Jack. Jack and Thomas were able to play a game (Mindcraft) that Thomas had received an award of 5th in the world for something he had submitted.

Lunch with the Danish family. Helen & Jorgen, Benfers, Gitte & John, Eva & Kenno, Annie and us. Fabulous Danish meal as always. This was a classical Danish Cold Table; an experience worth going to the other side of the world for. Many skols (cheers) with a combination of Schnapps, beer, Sambuca, gammeldansk etc. throughout the day. Wonderful hospitality and English speaking effort made by the Danes as always.

Quiet night after a very long lunch….

Sunday 2nd

Slow start to the day after yesterday’s lunch….

Visited Eva & Kenno’s house. Fabulous house that they were renovating when we last visited in 2005. Again we were treated with fabulous Danish hospitality and Eva’s homemade Danishes!

Went into Roskilde for some last minute Danish shopping. Found most shops closed. There is some push to trade on Sundays but still many are closed.
Went passed Karen’s grave on the way home. Ran into Paul there also. The cemetery is in such a lovely setting and can see towards the Cathedral from Karen’s site.

For dinner we went with Jorgen & Helen and the Benfers to the castle where Thomas’ Confirmation celebration lunch was held. Was great to be able to see this venue as our holiday was originally planned around this event in April before Rach got sick. Fun night, great meal followed by coffee and Tim Tams back at Helen & Jorgens.

Tomorrow we leave Paris, it will be a bit sad but we have had a great week.

Posted by peterhann 13:20 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Week 1 - Dubai


sunny 40 °C

Friday24th Aug

It’s our 44th Wedding Anniversary so what better way to celebrate than a trip to Europe. Left Rachel’s at 11PM so that we can be early to get the exit rows. Arrive at the airport 3 hours before boarding but still miss out. These others must be in the know. We get ticketed through to Dubai. Anyway not all bad we get to spend 3 hours at Tullamarine. Rach has organised lounge passes through her Amex, turns out they use United’s lounge which is only open 10AM to 1PM. Not to worry we will have supper at Café Vue, well they close at Midnight. This is not a good start, anyway good flight to KL. I have three travelling companions, Rae, Rach and a CROW boot, which is short for Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker.

Saturday 25th Aug

Only a short break in KL so no time to use Rach’s Lounge pass. As we are checking through we get stopped and sent to re-ticketing. Cheap fares should have paid the extra to be up the front. “Sorry Mr Hann can’t get you seats together, we will have to put you in Business”, turns out we didn’t care too much about travelling together anyway. Pete 6F, Rae 8F and Rach 9F. Moet by the glass. First time I have ever seen it; another plane was tethering with ours for re-fuelling. (Two extra cases of Moet). Seems Row 8 have been right into it. It’s going to be tough going back to cattle class.

Arrive at Dubai very relaxed. Rach’s friend Emma (old PLC Friends) had organised Tariq to be our driver for our whole stay. Air-conditioned car, thank goodness… it’s 110 in the water bag. Had a bit of trouble finding the Ramada Hotel (only been open for a month).

Time for freshen up then down to Speak Easy Bar for a drink, then collected by Tariq to go to Emma’s for dinner. Emma and Andrew and two children Sam and Edward live in a Gated Community called the Meadows. Great house with an outdoor pool, which is refrigerated to cool it down to 31 C. I wonder if the Emiratis pay a carbon tax?? Wonderful meal with the Henry’s, Andrew went out to cook the Bar BQ, I would have thought you only need to put the meat out the door.

Back to Hotel with Tariq, thank goodness for air-conditioning, my glasses fog up when I hop out of the car.

Sunday 26th Aug

Up reasonably early and down to breakfast -- even have beef bacon (no pork of course!)

Went for a walk down toward the beach couldn’t swim water around 45-50C. Could get used to the CROW and walking stick, people are very helpful, cars even give way.

Have arranged to meet Emma and her children at the Mall of the Emirates. Another trip with Tariq. This is a massive complex which includes Ski Dubai. Have a look at the web site 45C outside no carbon tax http://www.malloftheemirates.com/en/entertainment/ski-dubai.html There is a lack of reality about this place, it doesn’t even rain let alone snow. Decided to give the slope a miss given my last skiing experience (the main reason for my CROW). Did have a café and watched. They even had a large screen tele with a fire.

Back to the hotel with Tariq to change ready for high tea at the Burj Al Arab. We pick-up Emma on the way. This is the flashiest (and only 7 star) hotel in the world. Wall to wall opulence
This is an absolute gastronomical experience commencing with French Champagne and about 15 different samples.

Rach catches up with her ex boss, Mark who is working for Logical in Dubai, a couple of drinks in Speak Easy Bar.

We finish the day with a trip to 53rd floor of Hotel Marriott for a pre-dinner aperitif and then with a stroll through Mall of Dubai. http://www.thedubaimall.com Adjacent to the Mall is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man made structure in the world. http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/ . One of the features of the mall is the Dubai Fountain http://www.thedubaimall.com/en/entertainment/entertainment-section/the-dubai-fountain.html This is absolutely spectacular it goes off on the half hour to a variety on tunes. We saw “The Prayer by Andrea Bocelli & Celine Dion” and “I will always love you by Whitney Houston”

Back to our hotel thanks to Tariq. Early start for flight to Denmark.

A big Thanks to Emma Henry for her assistance, advice and company. Emma has a website that keeps her busy in Dubai that I recommend you visit. http://www.familymealsandcookingtips.com/

Posted by peterhann 13:39 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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